Is the Ivy League Outdated?

In the United States, it is well known that the universities within the ‘Ivy League’ have often been seen as the pinnacle of elite education and standards. To graduate or even attend such institutions alone is seen as a sign of academic nobility and held in the highest esteem. However, in recent decades many students have begun to question these institutions and their legitimacy as worthwhile investments. For many young people, the hope of attending one of the Ivy League universities is a major personal goal. There is no doubt that such universities give outstanding forms of education. But they also charge costly tuition rates, which can almost financially cripple even the most well off family and leave prospective students overburdened with student debt.

This begs the question – is it worth the prestige and recognition to make such a massive financial proposition? There exist many highly rated public universities and less expensive private universities that will teach you pretty much the same content as Yale or Cornell. This is because most universities offer similar degree structures and programs, meaning that you can get the same education around a subject without paying the same as other schools. However, there are exceptions to this rule in the context of America. For Law, Harvard’s and Yale’s law schools offer exceptional levels of education and prestige for prospective students. But if one hopes to pursue a more standard degree program like geography or history, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify such expenses.

On the other hand, whilst Ivy League universities cannot be justified on the total cost of education they offer, there can be some true perks that come with attending such institutions. Degrees from prestigious universities often set a strong impression for the eyes of potential employers, which can stay with these degree holders for life due to their prestige. Their will also be chances of doing serious networking with access to better opportunities that cannot be found at less prestigious institutions.

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One final thing that is often overlooked is that an Ivy League education can even be affordable for individuals in a lower income bracket if they display exceptional talents or suffer from unfortunate circumstances. Several Ivy League universities hold major financial endowments and scholarships to lower income students. According to one source, you may end up with slightly less student debt by going to an Ivy League school with a scholarship compared to attending a state university without one.

Nevertheless, one believes that the ‘Ivy League status’ is slowly becoming outdated. Although these schools come with nice perks, you can still get the same skills and pretty much the same degree from far cheaper institutions. Of course, degrees and universities are dependent on the individual and their finances, which the Business Insider discusses in detail. For most, receiving an Ivy League education is not worth the cost.

This raises a much broader question – Is university worth it? Let alone an Ivy League one? If you asked an investor to give 100K and 4 years to something for the possibility that it might become successful, they would laugh at you. For the average investor, this would be insanity, as explored here. It is no wonder that as the general cost of American universities increases, the more young people switch to online forms of education instead of forking out for something else. Because of this, universities are becoming increasingly inaccessible for the average young person.


In conclusion, one could speculate that if this trend continues, elite universities will begin to fail, with education institutions feeling the gap in the market. It shows that the Ivy League prestige has become outdated as well.

Featured image credit: “IVY LEAGUE” by marc falardeau is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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